How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Jane Stuart is as complete a jazz singer as they come. With the timing of a tap dancer, the emotive responsiveness of a stage performer, a voice for the ages, and the experience to put it all together into one unified whole, Stuart deserves more exposure than she currently gets. To her credit, Stuart is able to bring all of these different elements into her performances due, in large part, to her vast experience in every one of these areas.
Her debut, I'm Beginning To See The Light (Self Produced, 2007), was a standards-based affair that touched on well-worn pieces from Duke Ellington
' "Eleanor Rigby," providing some sensitive accompaniment during a duo reading of "You Are There." Oatts appears, most often, as soloist par excellence, but he's presented in a variety of manners: duking it out with Stuart, as saxophone and scat singing trade back and forth on "Who Will Buy?"; delivering some fluttery and engaging flute work on "Wheelers And Dealers"; providing saxophone obbligato-of-sorts at the outset of "Experiment"; and left to his own swinging devices on "Summertime."
While Stuart provides plenty of room for her soloists to take off, she still remains the star of her own show: delivering solid swing on "I Just Found Out About Love"; showing spunk and sass with "Wheelers And Dealers"; even managing to successfully turn some rarely covered Stevie Wonder
into a Brazilian carnival concoction. Of the twelve pieces here, the title track is the only selection that really lacks spark, veering too closely to easy listening, but that's easily overlooked in the grand scheme of things. In other places, she crafts tender melodies with the utmost care ("You Are There") and adds just the right amount of steam to the oft-tackled "Summertime." With an album like Don't Look Back under her belt, vocalist Jane Stuart can surely look forward to more, well-deserved attention in the future.
Track Listing: I Just Found Out About Love; Experiment; Eleanor Rigby; Don't Look Back; Bird Of Beauty; Let It Come To You; Who Will Buy; Wheelers And Dealers; You Are There; Summertime; I'll Follow The Sun; I Didn't Know What Time It Was.
Personnel: Jane Stuart: vocals; Rave Tesar: keyboards, background vocals; Rick De Kovessey: drums, background vocals; Sue Williams: bass (1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 12); Kermit Driscoll: bass (3-6, 11); Emedin Rivera: percussion, whistles; Dave Stryker: guitar; Dick Oatts: alto sax, flute; Frank Elmo: tenor sax; Orlando Quinones: background vocals; Paige Sandusky: background vocals.